Dear brothers and sisters:

Merry Christmas! As we enter the Christmas season with joy and hope, I pray you will encounter Christ in the wonder of Christmastide Masses. More importantly, I pray you encounter Jesus in your heart as the source of our peace, joy and hope: the “Word of God made flesh” who we have announced as Emmanuel, God who is with us and who will come again.

In the beauty of Christmas cards and nativity scenes, we see the love of a family with our newborn Savior, which remind us that there is a purpose to all that makes up life, the universe and the Church. The universe with its laws, beauty, and glory, doesn’t come from an impersonal “force” like in Star Wars. Our God has revealed a desire to relate to us personally as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. On Christmas, the Church offers God’s infinite power and mercy wrapped in swaddling cloths, asleep in Mary’s arms. This is Jesus, this is Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us.

I encounter this merciful Jesus when I was a child in my village in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. His birth was announced to us and to the poor shepherds in the fields. Angels appeared in the sky singing of “Good news of great joy to all people of good will.” As we sang “Angels we have heard on high” my heart was filled with wonder in worshiping our newborn king. He gave me comfort and joy with his love. This is mercy and love of Christ is the most real relationship we can experience. Jesus is the lover who never fails his beloved and reveals to us that we are God’s beloved son or daughter. His divine love is showered upon us, even if we don’t feel worthy. I met divine love in my child’s heart and I became aware of the infinity of God’s love and his Church.

Jesus came gently and helplessly entrusting himself to Mary and Joseph. He now entrusts himself into our care. This baby is an icon of infinite love, it is the Christ Child who dispenses mercy in Confession and gives us divine life in Holy Communion. We can only receive the fullness of grace offered, if we come in a state of grace from Confession. Yes, we each receive grace, but the grace depends on our disposition and the state of our soul. One of the greatest gifts of Christ is mercy we receive in Confession. God calls us to be holy and makes us holy through prayer, the Mass, Confession and the Eucharist. Humility is the mark of Christian life in imitation of Jesus who makes himself weak in the person of his priests to become the source of our strength and joy.

I will be with my family for two weeks in Texas beginning December 26th. You will remain in my heart and prayers. Let’s begin in the Year of Mercy by loving one another and sharing our gifts with those in need. Happy New Year!

Your servant in Christ, Father Paul